A dead faithful go-to for vintage wave compilations in recent years, Color Tapes’ Cold Waves Of Color Volume 5 extends the cherry-picked selections of minimal and new wave with 11 more aces from the likes of Beserk In A Hayfield, Modern Art (Gary Ramon), Lives of Angels and Silicon Valley, and including a natty rarity by The Good Missionaries, post Alternative TV. All material this time spans 1981-1985 and all makes first appearance on vinyl.
As with previous instalments, Volume 5 impresses with its depth and quality of variety, sequencing crisp electronic dance tracks on the same page as grainy, melodic synth-pop and hard-working dubs in a way that makes total sense as both a historic education as well as a heavily satisfying, play-it-again record.
On the front they add up Void’s punchy, bittersweet minimal wave jabber Isotope beside the soaring, romantic ‘tronics of Silent Sky by Echophase and the supple swang of Beserk In A Hayfield, leading up to some real gems in The Lord’s warped chromatic wormhole Production Line, and especially The Good Missionaries brooding beauty Bending A Border  which is pretty unmissable for fans of PiL or Officer!.
Flip over for more treats in the fluidly Chris Carter-esque electro dynamics of Continental Shift by Echophase, a New Order-y turn from Lives of Angels, and the dubbed-out NRG-disco deviation of Gary Ramon’s own Modern Art ace, Colliding World.
One of Techno's slipperiest operators presents his debut album statement in the subtle but lush structures of 'Suzi Ecto' for Fabric/Rob Booth's Houndstooth.
Over the last four years the London-based musician has garnered the respect of everyone from PAN's Bill Kouligas to Ben UFO and Objekt, exemplifying his artistic versatility and aptitude for transcending cerebral and club dimensions. With 'Suzi Ecto' he opens a lucidly gorgeous space between the 'floor and our imagination, sweeping us thru eleven concisely detailed prisms refracting classic IDM and exotic 4th world ambient thru minimal techno and garage frameworks.
It's all got a very contrary English quality to it, contradicting sheer and prickly textures with blissful and melancholic emotions to discern a systemic sound that plays and feeds off its binaries, from the meld of glassy electronics, airborne jszz sax and mnml dancehall bump of 'Sulu Sekou' to the dank but brittle techno jag of 'Hoax Eye', and the gyroscopic, head-gone whorl of 'Acephale I'. Most crucially he nails that balancing act of esoteric intent, and physical, tactile function, proving himself one of the most intangible, elusive - in terms of aesthetics - producers from the UK right now.
A captivating survey of Charlie Morrow’s glorious festive celebrations recorded on or around solstices in America between 1970 to 2014. Massed horns, drums and conch shells sounding utterly ancient and communally transcendent. Warmest recommendations!
“It is with such pleasure that I introduce the first vinyl LP by composer/event-maker Charlie Morrow. Toot! Too culls performance recordings from 1970 to 2014. It focuses on his Wave Music series, which are compositions based around swarms of like-instruments; i.e. sixty clarinets, conch choruses, and an army of drums and bugle horns, etc. A personal favorite is the 1978 piece, “100 Musicians With Lights,” which was performed at dusk in Central Park. One hundred players (brass, reeds, percussion) congregate and march in spiral formations, playing their instrument with penlights attached to them. The piece dissipates and ends as each player marches through the park to their respective homes. The sound is fascinating; a tape recording made by an audience member swirling and dancing through the performance.
Charlie is an organizer: one of instruments, with the pieces that landed on this LP and dozens more; one of events, through decades of public Solstice celebrations across the world; one of publications, including New Wilderness Audiographics and EAR Magazine; and, one of friendships as Charlie has kindly introduced me to many fascinating players in this quirky game of ours. He views networking as an art form, always connecting friends with other friends, building a larger web for us to dance throughout.
In working on this LP over the past years, Charlie Morrow and I have become close. It has been a joy to have him in my life. At the age of 73, he is determined and creative and as positive as ever. Each time we speak, new projects arise – like a mysterious soup boiling up fresh aromas. One of my favorite memories with Charlie was us staying up ’til the wee small hours of the morning drinking a bottle of sweet potato shochu, me listening to him tell funny and poignant remembrances. I am happy to share these lovely recordings, just a pinky toe in his artistic footprint, but wow, such a gorgeous toe!”
Mark Broom, Drvg Cvltvre and Mike Dred gets to grips with EVOL’s rave slime in slamming acid techno remixes of Presto!?’s Do These release for Alku.
With a combined age of well over 100, the three remixers bring some proper rave experience to the plate in a visceral, disciplined style that shows the whippersnappers how it’s done.
Up top Mark Broom teases out a burning gob of EVOL’s acid into a proper, tracky peak time slammer with percolated chords and bucking claps, leading to a pair of brain-swilling locked grooves by UK hero Mike Dred.
Down below, Drvg Cvltvre gets to work with a slompier sort of jack attack riddled with iridescent glissandi, again leading to some superb loops by Rephlex’s Mike Dred that we could happily listen to for ages.
Pivotal techno pioneer Susanne Kirchmayr a.k.a Electric Indigo presents a filigree detailed début album of high-end techno electronica with 5 1 1 5 9 3 for Robert Henke’s Imbalance Computer Music label.
Mainstay of the Berlin scene since she moved there from Vienna and took a job at Hardwax in the early ‘90s, Electric Indigo’s name and output is synonymous with the city’s leading edge of clubs and sound art thanks to her uncompromising aesthetics and vital work with the Female:Pressure group, which she established in 1998.
After some dozen 12”s with her name at the top, including a recent turn on the Berghain 08 EP, Electric Indigo now offers a definitive cross-section of her sound in 5 1 1 5 9 3, combining her praxes in the ostensibly opposing but often interrelated spheres of academic sound art and club music, in 10 uniquely twisted permutations of computer music, electro-techno and electro-acoustic styles.
While unremittingly greyscale in tone and minimalist in structure, 5 1 1 5 9 3 still possesses a depth of colour and striking variation of pattern within those parameters. The result is Berlin techno music at its probing, icy best, especially in the rhythm-driven highlights such as the recursive electro-noise vortex of Excursion, the purist pressure of 4.31Hz and quite strikingly in the Anne-James Chaton-esque rhythmic vocal cut-up of Trois, and to neck-cricking degrees with the immense spatial proprioceptions of The Landing.
Few artists make listeners as aware of their own being as Andrew Chalk and Timo Van Luijk’s Elodie, as the experience of listening to Le Manteau d’Etoiles uncannily makes us acutely aware of our breathing and the slightest movements when in the presence of the immaculate near-stasis and fragile ephemerality of their sound.
Working beyond trend and convention, Elodie make a sound that feels like it comes from a dreamlike and surreally etheric place. In effect, we’d compare it to the way the atmosphere, pacing and mise-en-scene of arthouse cinema (or even TV) and fiction can somehow connote a sense of reality which literal representations tend to fail to grasp.
Joined by Tom James Scott on the piano stool, and the clarinet of Jean-Noël Rebilly, the quartet seduce us with every turn of Le Manteau d’Etoiles, beautifully upholding a sublime tension from the first icy breaths of Cristaux de Lumière to the solitary, hovering notes of Le Temps Suspendu and the air-bending deliquescence of Le manteau d’Etoiles at its close, and in a way which lingers privately with the listener long after the record stops.
Impossible to convey in words just how beautiful and quietly evocative this music is.
Let’s just call it magick, shall we?
In a sweet turn of events, electro pioneer Egyptian Lover remixes I’m An Arabian Knight, an obscure Australian electro gem clearly influenced by the L.A. OG’s early releases.
Up top, he sees to a fresh and spacious dub mix redressed with chiffon pads and boogie chords and saving some class 808 boom crack for the final strokes. Downtown, there’s a tight vocal edit showing off Shahara-Ja’s tremulous soul vocal with extra, Arabic-sounding synth vamps and his own raps, while the Instrumental serves it up neat and stripped to its sexy bones.
Dollkraut does a nippy rejig of Eefje de Visser’s melancholic synth-pop ditty Scheef, the lead track from her self-released 3rd album, Nachtlicht .
Eefje’s pulsing, folkways dream-pop original is a relatively rare - for us at least - example of Dutch language pop, with floaty results that sit rather nicely on the ear. Dollkraut’s remix takes Eefje in another direction entirely though, with dancefloors full of shuffling waifs and foppish wave flounders squarely in mind.
Two jazzy numbers from Kuniyuki Takahashi’s Walking In The Naked City  album see light of day on vinyl
Offering the fidgety LP opener Once Again, featuring piano by Fumio Itabashi and vocals from Henrik Schwarz, and the more delicate, lounging downstroke of River, again featuring the silky ivories tickles of Itabashi.
Octal, ANFS, Codex Empire and OAKE queue up to kick the sh*t out of Dint for Horo.
NYC/Serbia’s Ontal retune Shovel for extra unyielding leverage in the dance; ANFS drag Skewer down to sewer level with trampled jungle tekno breaks and bilious drones; Codex Empire hybridize a screeching industrial mutant ion Skewer Shovel; and OAKE extract a cinematic drama from Hooker sounding like Laibach soundtracking a documentary on Peter Sutcliffe.
Christina Vantzou follows her role in the superb CV & JAB album for Shelter Press with the starkly haunting No.4 in her chrono-numeric series of albums for Kranky.
Her JAB foil, John Also Bennett (Forma) also assists on this one, as do Angel Deradoorian, and members of Belgium’s Echo Collective, all sensitively incorporated into her signature dimension of smoky dream sequence logic and texturally rich electro-acoustic timbres. A strong look for lovers of Angelo Badalamenti & David Lynch soundtracks, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Global Communication - in other words: night time music.
“Belgium-based composer Christina Vantzou’s fourth full-length for Kranky ventures further into the uniquely elusive and evocative mode of ambient classical minimalism which has become her signature: a fragile synthesis of contemplative drift, heady silences, and muted dissonance. In regards to the new album she speaks of focusing particular attention on the effects of the recordings on the body, and of “directing sound perception into an inner space.”
No. 4 took shape across roughly two years, incorporating a diverse array of musical and conceptual collaborators, including fellow Kranky artists Steve Hauschildt and John Also Bennett (of Forma) as well as Angel Deradoorian (ex-Dirty Projectors), Clarice Jensen, Beatrijs De Klerck, and members of Belgium’s Echo Collective. During the creation process Vantzou wanted to “blur lines of hierarchy,” and thus allowed all ensemble members and technical assistants to add or delete elements. Despite such a spectrum of input the eleven tracks feel distinctly cohesive, weaving elegant textures and resonant open spaces within a twilit landscape of eclectic instrumentation: piano, harp, vibraphone, voice, strings, marimba, synthesizers, gong, and bells.
Vantzou describes the recording process as one of prepared spontaneity: that is, “having plenty of ideas ready to explore going into the session, but with enough time to depart from those ideas and see what happens.” This mindset of premeditated exploration informs the album’s emotive textural intuition, with hushed drones and delicate gestures eliding in the periphery of the mix. She cites sleep and “the loosening of time” as two formative practices in her private and professional life, which manifests in the quietly hallucinatory properties of Vantzou’s music. No. 4 feels both endless and ephemeral, immersive and immaterial. It’s a music of horizon lines and half-light, mapped with feeling and foresight.”